June 2017

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Rainbow Line - Russell Chilton  

Myself, Wayne, and Kevin cleared the Rainbow Valley and skiifield road traps on Sunday 28th May We also collected up another truck load of traps off the skiifield road ready for the winter. Weather conditions were great throughout the day.

There was sound of bird life (especially Tuis and Bellbirds) all up the valley: hopefully this is because of the trapping we have done and the wasp control that Drew and Warwick have done for Rainbow Station.

Our catches were; possums 5, hedgehogs 2, rats 4, stoats 1

Looks like the stoat numbers have really come down at the moment in line with other years.

From now on, throughout the winter months we are will doing complete bait changes on all clearances of traps on roster dates with erayze in the DoC 250's please, bait is in the freezer in workshop.

Feral Cats - Chris Richards

Feral cats reported trapped in May as follows. 

Tophouse Road            6

Village                          8

Big Bush                       5

Whiskey                        1 

Total                             20 

Additional stats from Big Bush since January     12

 Total + late stats           32 

Total catch to date for 2016/2017 (July 1 – June 30) 

Feral cats                      114

Stoats                          1

Possums                      2

HH                                5

Rainbow Line - Wayne Sowman  

Wayne and Sim checked the Rainbow line on Saturday 24th, weather cool.

The Ski field road was good so checked all possum traps and rebaited and also brought the last of the traps down to the gate.    

Catches for the day 3 possums, 2 rats.

First time that I can remember that we have not caught anything in the Valley in the run throughs and baited traps.

Whisky Line - Wayne Sowman

Checked Whisky trap line on 20th June. Emma took Wayne, Iain and Dianna up to Coldwater.Cool morning but beautiful and sunny outside Coldwater Hut so Dianna thought it would be a good idea to have a coffee before we started the line check.What a great start to a very enjoyable day.

Rebaited all stoat, possum and cat traps. Catches for the day 7 rats,4 possums. Bush robin at Coldwater Hut and at trap 66. Fantails entertained us at Whisky falls

Kiwi Monitoring

Next dates for kiwi monitoring are below. For people who have done they training they are welcome to just come in get the gear and go out by themselves, or if they want a refresher someone can give that or if they need a full training session that cool as well

  • July 6th
  • July 20th
  • August 3rd
  • August 17th
  • August 31st

I’m on duty weekend of 12/13 August so I could do a weekend training session if people were interested. If you let me know any dates people want to attend.

What’s been happening in the RNRP in May and June 2017

 

May

May was a busy month in the RNRP with a lot of monitoring work being carried out. Tracking tunnel monitoring was carried out at Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa to measure rat and mice abundance through activity indices. Five-minute bird counts were carried out at Rotoiti and Rotoroa. We carry out these bird counts as part of a long-term dataset in the RNRP to determine how the populations of forest birds are changing over time with pest control. This data is currently being analysed by a Masters student Kelly Whitau from Canterbury University who will be presenting her results at this years RNRP Technical Advisory Group meeting.

 

Mustelid Trapping

The last check of the traps along the top of the St Arnaud Range was done for the year with snow now covering the traps. Catches in traps have really dropped off as we come into winter with 12 stoats caught in May, and 5 in June as well as one ferret.

 

Kiwi

Kiwi transmitter changes have now finished for the year. Unfortunately, the juvenile kiwi Totoweka dropped his transmitter before he could be caught to give him a new one.

The subadult female Joy who had moved outside the RNRP has now moved back in and we will be keeping a close eye on her to see whether she stays or wanders off again. Pat and Emma W have put out acoustic recorders to try to determine why she moved. Possible theories centre around the likelihood that she is approaching breeding age and either there is a kiwi on the other side of the range that she has gone to investigate to pair up with, or where she was within the RNRP was on the edge of the territory of an existing pair that were prepared to tolerate her as a juvenile but not as breeding bird.

We have had good turn out to our kiwi monitoring sessions and now have a nice group of people trained up. These will continue through winter so if you are keen to attend get in touch. And a special thanks to Julie who came out on two catch missions to help catch Joy.

 

June

June has been a quieter month with the focus being on tidying up the RNRP infrastructure. Emma W, Pat and Graeme have done an excellent job getting around the traplines with scrubbars to trim back the vegetation. While Emma McCool, Gareth and Athow have been out chainsawing the old windfall along these lines. These lines will now be much quicker and easier to get around now.

Jamie McAulay, a Masters student at Otago University researching the diet of alpine stoats, spent a week at Rainbow skifield at the star of June collecting samples with the assistance of RNRP staff. Jamie spent the week catching passerines for blood sampling, and collecting mice and weta. He has dissected the stoats sent to him from the RNRP and FOR traplines to examine their gut contents and they are now being sent away for further analysis. You can follow Jamies research on youtube.

 

Beech Seed Monitoring

Beech seed monitoring is undertaken at Lake Rotoiti and Rotoroa as beech seed is an important food source in beech forests and drives the breeding of several species like kaka. Unfortunately in heavy seeding years the availability of this food source allows rodent populations to increase to high levels, which in turn causes an increase in the stoat population. Monitoring is carried out each year from February to June to determine what the level of beech seedfall will be on the ground and help our decision making for what type of response is required to prevent a rodent and stoat population increase. Trays are placed under red, silver and mountain beech trees to collect seed that falls, and these samples are collected and sent away so that the amount of seed of each beech species can be counted and the fertility rate assessed. Gareth has just finished the beech seed monitoring for the year and sent the samples sent away for counting.

This monitoring indicates how much beech seed is on the ground, but to get a jump on this we can measure seed while it is still on trees. In the past, this has been done by shooting branches out of trees and counting the amount of seed present in the pods. This year the Science and Technical team sampled sites around the country (including the RNRP) by removing branches from the canopy from a helicopter. This monitoring showed that in RNRP beech seeding was expected to be low and samples from the trays should confirm this.

 

What’s coming up in July

July is another quieter month for the RNRP and a chance to catch up on report writing and general maintenance We will be writing up the results from the last year into our Annual Report. The kea nest protection work will start up again, with trap networks targeting stoats and possums around kea nests on the Raglan Range, St Arnaud Range and Travers Range opened for the kea breeding season. We will finish the windfall and vegetation clearing on the stoat traplines within the RNRP and then move on to the wasp control grid. The Dogleg trapline in Big Bush will be extended to create a loop down to the TRF trapline and enclose that area with traps. All stoat traps will be weight tested to check they are springing off at the correct weight.

 

 

 

 

 

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